Holiday impacts on prime cattle supplies

Celebrating the Queen's birthday led to a fall in supply


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While it remains very dry, recent rain events has depleted the supply of cattle around the public holiday

Despite the dire drought conditions across much of the eastern seaboard, the supply of cattle into saleyards, prior to the Queen’s birthday public holiday, fell, not increased.

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Steve Vagg and Barb Challis, Leongatha, were in the market for replacements at last week's Leongatha store sale.

Steve Vagg and Barb Challis, Leongatha, were in the market for replacements at last week's Leongatha store sale.

Given the lack of grass, and the large throughput of cattle over the past weeks, leading up to the long weekend, it was surprising to see such a drop in supply, on both sides of the holiday, Monday. Generally, it has had a positive affect on prices with most classes of cattle being noticeably dearer.

However, there remains a gap between markets, again over most categories, creating some significant differences in price, especially for grown steers and bullocks.

At Leongatha last Wednesday, prime C muscle bullocks sold from 290-321 cents per kilogram live weight. This bested any other market by as much as 25c/kg lwt, which for some sales was quality driven.

Having just been to Western Australia, these prices cannot be compared to Muchea market, Perth, as there were no grown bullocks penned in the west.

Speaking of Muchea, agents there offered only 700 head, and a significant number of these were pastoral cattle from the Pilbira and Gascoyne regions of Western Australia. Most of these were yearling cattle and they sold to feedlots.

The only comparable prices to Victoria were cows, which sold on a par to sales here this week. Plain 1 score cows sold from 80-165c for lighter weights, and up to 200c/kg for heavier Friesians.

Most of the better quality cows, across all Victorian markets, and Muchea, sold from 190-220c with isolated sales to 230c/kg lwt.

The best of the vealers sold from 300-335c/kg, and due to the lack of supply of vealers, grain assisted yearling steers and heifers filled a void for local processors.

Most of the supply of these grain assisted cattle came from Barnawartha, Shepparton and Swan Hill with prices ranging mostly between 290 and 315c/kg lwt.

Comparing these top end cattle on a over the hooks price sees them above OTH offers by up to 20c/kg cwt. However, most other cattle are equal to OTH prices after allowing for quality variations.

Some cows are selling better in the saleyard, but the outstanding difference to OTH prices for bullocks occurred at Leongatha, where carcass weight prices were estimated around 540-568c/kg.

On average, this is 20c/kg above OTH offers, and compared to Queensland prices, our prime bullocks are 50-60c/kg better off.

With export processors already short of grown steers and bullocks, the fall in supply, due to the public holiday, only exacerbates their problem.

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